Is my Generic Pristiq inferior to name brand? CVS came thru….thank Goodness!

Some people might call this manipulation of the system, but I regard this as a tactfully maneuvered agreement.

Because of all my medical conditions (bipolar disorder, psoriasis, chronic pain, prediabetic, etc.) and side effects (Including chronic dry eye, high cholesterol, constipation, Tardive Dyskinesia), …I’m on a long list of medications, most of which I have to fight my insurance company for. I’m a worthy adversary, just in case you’re wondering…they probably hate me. I cost them money and eat up their time with grievances and expedited appeals…..reminds me of the Nirvana Song “Heart Shaped Box” that goes, “Hey,Wait, I’ve got a new Complaint” LOL.

Right this second, I’m on hold for forty minutes now, as I blog this, with my Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, Silverscript/Caremark/CVS.

I have what some people call “Tardive Dysphoria,” also called “Prozac Poopout,” (poor Eli Lilly and their Green and Off White Giant, it was so spectacularly successful, when the pendulum swung the other way, Prozac ended up with this moniker, in a classic case of branding in reverse)…

Anyway, I took Prozac for 8 great years and then….it stopped working for me. This has been the normal course of my illness since 1997. My antidepressants burn out and it’s severe, dramatic. Does this sound familiar? I’m functional, but barely breathing until I find a new antidepressant….basically, we rotate them, and sometimes, I have to take an entire month off of them to allow my brain to ‘reset.’

Antidepressant burnout is actually more common than not…they even have a rating scale for it. However, it’s not discussed…due to doctors and drug companies not wanting to set off the reverse placebo effect….plus, it does nothing for brand loyalty.

Anyway, I take the generic Pristiq for three weeks, and I start having notions of hanging myself…vivid and articulate like.

So I’m asking myself: What’s changed???  Luckily, I’m a Squirrel, and stash handfuls of RX drugs for just such an occasion. I pulled all the generic Pristiq out of my trays and replaced it with expired Pristiq 100 mg samples, some of which are cut up. (They tell you never to cut up meds, but I like to stretch them, especially right about now)  Within two days, I bounced right back. No more wondering whether a belt or a rope would be better to dangle from.

I hustled in to see my psychiatrist of 21 years, who did a ‘formulary exception request,’ which was immediately approved. The problem was, I couldn’t get any new Pristiq because I’d just gotten the generic junk two weeks ago.

My 45 minutes on hold with CVS was rewarded, I didn’t even have to ask for a supervisor. They did an override and I can pick some more up tomorrow. I wish I could tell you that was my only medical encounter this week…..far from it.

But still….today, tonight especially, I won.  I’m still alive, propelled by my expired Pristiq, and I’m grateful for my fortitude. The skills of a former drug addict came in handy tonight. You can take the dope out of the fiend, but not the fiend out of the dope.

Mental Illness Awareness Week and Patient Advocacy…part of a series

Above…just a real picture of a real human being, shaggy bottle dyed red hair that badly needs cutting….. and all.

We all want to improve our lives and help other people along the way if we think we have something to pass on, a situation we survived. I have several of those. Tardive Dyskinesia. Eating Disorder. Depression, Addiction….Allisonism, if you want to know the truth. But I told you I’d talk to you about how you can get involved, so here’s where I’m coming from.

 

The opiod epidemic drives me crazy, because there are a bunch of people doing their best to bring it to a swift resolution who have absolutely no idea, from an experiential perspective, what it’s like to have pleasure, pain, euphoric recall, the power of suggestion, peer pressure and any number of other mental and emotional factors driving something that’s just so basic…..pleasure, unequaled bliss, is how I remember it.  As excruciatingly difficult as it is, we can reclaim our lives. If I’ve done it so can anyone else. If I get an opportunity to speak to people in any sort of ‘recovery’ setting, (I hate the word ‘sober,’ and the word ‘recovery’ but that’s just me) I will jump to get there, no matter what. Sometimes the one-size-fits-all box of abstinence only 12 step programs gets in my craw, but I get over it. If it weren’t for the rooms of AA, who knows, I might not have made it.

So….here are a few things I picked up from a nice lady at a PR firm who thoroughly vetted me (job references, an interview conference call with their legal team)…when it turned out that for regulatory and legal reasons, they were NOT going to hire me, after all. It was a great experience. I learned a lot.

People at PR firms, casting directors, ad agencies, whoever is trying to promote a product, they are looking for that flash of inspiration that they need, they don’t know exactly what it is, but they recognize it when they see it. So you have to put yourself out there. Get connected with PATIENT COMMUNITIES, http://www.Health-Union.com and look for the health condition that might match a medication that is for that condition, whether you are taking it or not. Often times, we are hired for general “Disease Awareness” and asked to tell or blog or do a video about our story, irregardless of what medicines we are taking or intend to take in the future.

If they ask you to upload a picture, make it a ‘real person’ shot, not a glamour shot. They want someone who exudes beauty and humanity from within, it’s in the eyes, the smile, the tone of voice. I’ve got much more for you on this subject later. Let me know how you are doing with this, or if you think I’m full of shit. Sometimes I am.

About being a ‘Professional Patient’

 

Re: Finding work as a Patient Advocate, or Ambassador, or “Patient Influencer” paid or unpaid.

Last time I posted it was about drumming up some extra dollars by promoting what’s called ‘disease awareness’ or speaking on behalf a drug that’s benefiting you personally. I  promised you a series on this subject. I’m delivering, starting now.

As you probably know, Doctors often work for drug companies or manufacturers of patented medical devices, as recently reported by the New York Times and other major media outlets regarding Memorial Sloane-Kettering’s chief medical officer (CMO), Oncologist Dr. Jose Baselga, who failed to thoroughly and completely disclose his financial ties to industry, particularly in the arena of research. The public outcry regarding the financial pressures brought to bear on the Medical field, something called ‘Institutional Corruption,’ is well-documented in Robert Whitaker and Lisa Cosgrove’s book, “Psychiatry Under the Influence.” (Whitaker wrote “Anatomy of An Epidemic” and “Mad In America,” and crusades for social justice in the treatment of mental illness. His blog, Mad In America, or MIA, is easily findable online. Also, if you’re curious about a medical professional, everything you need to know down to the catered lunches is ‘supposed’ to be on Pro Publica’s “Dollars for Docs.” Dr. Baselga forgot to mention a few arrangements he had, more than a few times, it’s said.

My point? Doctors aren’t perceived as trustworthy as they were in the fifties and sixties, when they did commercials telling people of studies proving cigarettes weren’t harmful. Back then, a white lab coat could sell anything.

For a while Drug companies used celebrity spokespeople to push their products, like Sally Field, Blythe Danner (Gwyneth Paltrow’s Mom), Professional Golfer Phil Mickelson, (Enbrel for his Psoriatic Arthritis), but research shows an inverse relationship between fame and relatability. Just because someone is well-known doesn’t mean you’ll go out on a limb and ‘Ask Your Doctor if Drug X is Right for You.’ What they’re looking for these days is the real patient, the everyday person, doing every day things, and the depth of their story.

 

Patients with otherwise unremarkable lives, like me, or you, are the last bastion of credibility.

The Drug Companies, Ad Agencies, PR Firms, Patient Advocacy Groups, they all want to hear our stories, whether they are stories of success or stories about our struggle. My next post will tell you where to find a few people who are constantly looking for us.

Desperately Seeking Slater (author Dr. Lauren Slater) “Blue Dreams: The Science and the Story of the Drugs that Change our Minds”

does anyone remember the Madonna film “Desperately Seeking Susan?” Well, I’m desperately seeking the author of this book…can’t seem to find a way to contact her electronically …and I am pretty sure she’ll be at my upcoming conference. BTW,

I just read this book.  If you are a woman with a mental health issue or are close to someone with same, you must read this book. Audaciously, she weaves memoir and science, something many authors say can’t be done.

Then…if this isn’t stranger than fiction…..She’s got all my diagnoses, eating disorder, borderline, adhd, memory issues, bipolar, and more. She’s got all my side effects…too….which if you’ve ever followed my blogs, are legend. She’s a wonderful author and if you’ve never read one of her books, “Prozac Diary” is wonderful and even deals with Prozac Poopout, a topic some publishers won’t touch with a ten foot pole.

Anyway, I’m about to go to New York to speak about Tardive Dyskinesia at the American Psychiatric Association

Tardive Dyskinesia Videos

I did these videos three years ago, underneath crappy indoor overhead lighting and with no makeup on to cover my considerable sun spots from all the tennis and volleyball and running in South Florida. Still, their message resonates. No matter how hard they try to squelch us and our ungainly side effects, Tardive Dyskinesia happens (our population has grown three-fold in the last ten years) there are ways to prevent or delay its’ onset, and there is finally FDA-Approved first ever ‘first line’ TREATMENT!!!  Ladies, Tardive hits women 2-4x more than men, so you might want to see if you’re on one of the medications that cause it. The problematic medicines are in the ‘Dopamine Receptor Blocker’ category and they include products in wonderfully conceived, expansive mindstyle ads promising happy days ahead. The drugs are great, but they have regrettable fallout. Sometimes they are used for anxiety, sleep disorders, dementia-related agitation, cancer anorexia and aids (to stimulate appetite) and gastrointestinel disorders.

These are located on IBPF’s Youtube channel.

or you can Google Tardive Dyskinesia or Allison Strong if the link doesn’t get you there. from what I understand, these videos might be taken down shortly, so watch them while you still can.

 

Late Paramount Studios Chief Bipolar and Dialectical as Hell (DBT)

 

Charles Bludhorn. Crazy as a fox. Bipolar..they say. They called him ‘The Mad Austrian.’ He knew alot, but he knew what he didn’t know, and so he delegated the role of “Head of Production” to a failed actor named Robert Evans.

He told Robert, “Make movies that people want to see. None of that Fancy Schmhancy stuff.”

The studio was on the brink of collapse in the late sixties. Evans lined up ‘Love Story’  ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Chinatown’ in short order and saved the studio.

For all his delegation, Bludhorn died the death of a control freak. A Heart Attack at 56, while on a jet bound from New York to Los Angeles.

Dialectic. Opposites. Smart and Stupid. Sane and Crazy. Level Headed one moment, screaming the next. Robert Evans married Ali McGraw and the rest was Hollywood History.

From your “Tale of Two Hollywoods” pal in Hollywood, Florida…It’s Allison Strong. Back Atcha.

 

Punk Rock ‘Three Chords and The Truth?’

I heard about an artist, Colleen Green, who says her work is ‘Ramonesque’…i.e., The Ramones. I find stuff like this in the New York Times on the stairmaster at the Y.

Last week, on Sirius’ ‘Guns and Roses Channel,’ I heard all kinds of good stuff that I want to purchase and record. Also heard really good stuff on Jonathan L’s “The Lopsided World of L” Mersey Radio, Liverpool, England.

Jonathan is a former employer of mine at Radio station KFMA and ‘The Q’ both Phoenix, Arizona. You gotta know when someone hires you twice, you have worth in their eyes. This has nothing to do with Bipolar Disorder or Tardive Dyskinesia….it’s what I do to get out of depressive phases, like the one I’m in right now.

Why I’ve been Dark…..

Yeah, I’m writing a book on my favorite topic, a cause so crying out for coverage I can’t stand it. It’s inflammatory, political. Side effect not sickness. Something (a product) causes it. Or supposedly does. (I’m open to other theories. You know how quickly medicine changes).

The topic I wrestle (or wrestle) with the most is Tardive Dyskinesia, a side effect of antipsychotics. It’s gaining traction on Television with “The Good Wife’s” Michael J Fox’s character, Louis Canning, who has TV, or the ‘patient/perp’ storylines on “Law and Order.” TD comes up there in a clarion call crying out that for the mentally ill in the criminal justice system, justice can never be served. Well, it can get dicey out here on the outside of penal institutions as well.  It’s just that no one wants to hear about it just yet.

 

Mentally healthy people get prescriptions for Antipsychotics. In 2015, 60 million RX’s for antipsychotics were written, (according to QuintilesIMS, a global tech and data solutions provider for the healthcare industry.

These drugs are helping, it seems, everything under the sun, from anorexia to insomnia, OCD and anxiety. Who doesn’t want to feel better, right? I take one myself.

 

 Glowingly ‘madvertised’ on TV with enervating names that suggest Results (Rexulti) The World is Your Oyster (Geodon) Able again, (Abilify)….and that’s fine. These are good drugs and certainly an improvement over the mood stabilizers that ruined people’s kidneys. The thing is…they work so fast and so fully we forget to check the flip side. And there always is one.

 

If you are having uncontrollable movements and think you might be on one of these drugs….there’s finally an FDA-approved treatment for our 55 plus year old, long neglected syndrome, Tardive Dyskinesia. Another one, a second, (when it rains it pours) is supposed to be FDA-approved (or not) on August 30th.

I’m going to try one.

If YOU think you need a TD specialist, as opposed to a TD ‘Denier’ to check you out (and there are TD ‘Deniers’ out there, sad to say), here is a state-by-state link.

 

Hopefully, it will help you out. And yeah, I’m still bipolar…pulled out of my last ditch in March. I think DBT skills really helped. More on that later.  It’s good to be back.

http://www.lifescript.com/doctor-directory/condition/n-neuroleptic-induced-tardive-dyskinesia.aspx

 

 

Bipolar Depression…it’s baaacckkk! and 2,000 of my ‘Itunes’ songs are ‘Missing!’ Still!

anglemegyn

I’m depressed again.

This really sucks. How long’s it gonna last? I can’t think of any antidepressant I HAVEN’T TAKEN. So what do we do?

When it hit me, I spent the next two days in bed. But I can’t do that. So I crawled out and went to starbucks, my daily routine with the newspaper. I’m going to continue writing and blogging and doing the stuff I do…I just don’t enjoy it half as much.

Even lifting weights. I do it because I believe it’s really good, physically, for the mind. Prevents cognitive decline. So I’ve been going on iTunes, even though I’m one of the people who have that bug, and burning songs. Some that I buy won’t download. They have this little exclamation point right to the left. There are tons of forums about this.

 

Apple’s position? The problem is on our end and they take no responsibility. In the meantime I purchase new music by Guided By Voices, Daft Punk and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I was never that crazy about. Like Primus. You call that music? I donnaknow.